Time for yet another review for the Summer Film Challenge 2012: Apocalypse Edition. My Senior Seminar class is drawing to a close and, between researching the narrative capabilities of interactive video games, I found time to sit down and enjoy a nice date night with my girlfriend. We enjoyed a nice dinner and then decided to check out the next film on the SFC12. And, while that normally would have been a TERRIBLE idea, this time turned out to be a really good thing. So, without further ado, here is my review for:
This film really surprised me. Partially because I didn’t research it at all and, by sharing proximity to such films as Dark City and Pan’s Labyrinth, I assumed it would be a dark, noir-ish film. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it was a more humorous film, though it didn’t lose that topicality and poignancy.
I feel the best way to describe The Apartment is to say that it is one part Philadelphia Story, and one part Arsenic and Old Lace. There is a dry, witty humor to it that is mixed with a really serious underlying social issue being examined. The plot revolves around C.C. Baxter, an up-and-coming business man in an insurance firm, and the favors he does for his bosses. In short, he relinquishes his apartment to them for their extra-marital dalliances, and in return they help him rise in the company’s ranks. Everything is going fine until the boss catches wind, and then becomes a client of the apartment as well, taking the girl Baxter likes and leaving him high and dry. Baxter has to choose between letting the girl he likes get taken by this heartless boss, or risk his job to stand up for her.
The plot and storyline are a beautiful mix of frustration humor and simply witty writing, which plays perfectly with the great cast they have. Jack Lemmon is a personal favorite of mine and I felt this might have been his best role ever, though I can only assume that it was after his experiences at the apartment that he ran away, became a musician, and started cross-dressing his way into Marilyn Monroe’s heart. Similarly, Fred MacMurray gave a phenomenal performance as the insensitive boss, and it makes sense that after the events of this film, he went back to school, became a professor and invented Flubber. 🙂 All joking aside, both leading men did fantastically, and Shirley MacLaine played the beautifully torn woman caught in the middle of it all. Even if the plot had been terrible, I feel this cast would have worked flawlessly together.
But the plot was NOT terrible. In fact, I found it to be one of the best for its time that I have come across. As I mentioned earlier, it is a fascinating mix of both witty humor that one expects from a Jack Lemmon film, and social commentary on the burgeoning roles of women in the workplace and society. The film goes a long way to objectify women as simple sex-objects, yet shows the men doing so to be evil, conniving individuals that you quickly come to hate. Thus, while recreating the world of post-war boom for women entering the market place as workers, The Apartment provides beautiful commentary on the sexism rampant throughout that time, and I find that very empowering. The film speaks greatly to women’s individual value and promotes the kind of selfless hero that I absolutely love.
Ultimately I think the film was a masterpiece. Both entertaining and poignant, The Apartment is a great example that a film can be those things simultaneously – a fact that seems to have been neglected in the past few decades. Simple things like the bubbling champagne at end being a metaphor for the sexual and emotional tension between Baxter and Fran are wonderful reminders of the smart filmmaking of days-gone-by. Refreshingly “old school” yet progressive in spectacular ways, The Apartment should be at the top of any cinema lover’s list.
There you go! Film number four down and only 12 more to go. In fact, I have seen a couple of other films while writing this review and so expect more Summer Film Challenge 2012 critiques to be up soon. Let me know what you thought of The Apartment, and as is usual now, check out the lively discussion below between Ryan and I about this film and his take on one of my personal favorites, The Secret of Kells:
Thanks for sticking with me and I will see you all very soon for another review on the Soontobeangel blog.